Songbird 1.0

After a long period of beta versions, Songbird 1.0 is out.

The big question is: is it any good?

Let’s find out.


Right-click the downloaded .tar.gz file after you downloaded it from and extract it.

Double-click the file called “songbird” in the newly created folder.

The first time you’ll have to agree to some EULA, it will ask you if you want to scan your pc for music files. It will also suggest some recommended add-ons and ask if it can collect info from you.

I suggest you move that folder to your home directory and add a launcher for it in your “application -> sound and video” menu.

Go to “system -> preferences -> main menu”, and create a new entry in the sound and video menu. In the command box simply link to the songbird file. If you have the songbird folder in your home directory that would be /home/yourusernamehere/Songbird/songbird.


Oh,  I don’t think so Mozilla.

It looks bad, it won’t work with your compiz fusion effects (wobbly windows, you can’t move it to another workspace using the wall or cube plugin, …).

It have never used Itunes, but seen pics of it and it looks exactly like it, which is a bad thing.

The thing looks totally out of place on your Gnome desktop.

This isn't Windows Mozilla, Gnome users like their apps to integrate with the DE.

This isn't Windows Mozilla, Gnome users like their apps to integrate with the DE.


Your entire music collection should have been added during first boot, and pretty fast too.

The default view of the files in the Library is the same as in some other players. I’m not a big fan of it.

But you can easily change it to the file view. That’s good.

The search feature works well and is useful to quickly find a song, but I don’t know any modern audio player (well, I do know some :p) that doesn’t have this feature.

On the left plane it has some features that only a handful of users will use.

Really, the hype machine looks nice but I’ll never use it again.

There is an option to search for concerts in the left plane, but unless you live in the States, the UK, Australia, New Zealand or Canada you have no use for it.

Songbird can browse shoutcast radio streams, which is always a good thing for a media player.

It goes without saying you can make playlists with it. But again, that’s a given for any modern full-featured media player.

Songbird has one big feature I like that other players lack, add-ons. I love them in Firefox and they are OK in Songbird.

I installed and tried out the MediaFlow add-on.  It is similar to Apple’s CoverFlow.

After installing it, you’ll have to change the file view to MediaFlow for it to actually kick in.

Songbird using the MediaFlow add-on.

Songbird using the MediaFlow add-on.

This add-on is all about eye-candy because it isn’t useful at all to browse your music collection. If you don’t care to add cover art to your music files, then it actually looks very bad.

I should probably mention that you can download skins (called feathers) for Songbird, that it comes with a metadata editor, has and ipod support.


Songbird is a good audio player, no doubt about it.

I only tested it for about an hour, but it seemed stable to me.

But I will never use it on my Ubuntu pc’s.

I’m a Compiz Fusion guy and like my apps to integrate with the DE (Desktop Enviroment, aka Gnome).

I would give it a 7/10 but because it doesn’t play nice with Compiz Fusion and Gnome I have to fail it and give it a 4/10.

Do you have anything to add? You don’t or do agree? Drop a line in the comments.

    • Regac
    • December 5th, 2008

    While this is generally a very good blog that I read regularly, this post actually made me cringe.

    Its not that I do not agree with the review, I do almost completely, but somehow the way that it was written seems just too “arrogant”. You keep saying “you”, “your”. On my desktop it actually fits quite nicely since my skin is different then yours and perhaps I like iTunes.

    • linuxowns
    • December 5th, 2008

    It is never my intention to sound arrogant.

    When I said your desktop, I just mean that it doesn’t fit nicely into a Gnome/Compiz Fusion box. Which as a reader of this blog, you most likely are.

    Sure, you can make it fit if you change skins and use feathers on Songbird, but even then it doesn’t really fit in (Compiz Fusion effects for one don’t work).

    With this quote “It have never used Itunes, but seen pics of it and it looks exactly like it, which is a bad thing.” I mean that it is a bad thing for an application to try to clone the look and interface of another application.

    I have nothing against iTunes, because I have never used it, so I can’t like or dislike it.

    • virtualmode
    • December 5th, 2008

    I think audio players must have cool non-native looks, and Songbird definitely has it. I use YABS feather and it looks quite good with the Dust theme I use for Gnome.

    I you want native Ghome looks for a player, use Rhythmbox and many others. For me, they are boring. I like Rhythmbox, Banshee etc. But they definitely have to support skins.

    Songbird’s looks, Media Flow and some other things (like Shoutcast plugin) are killer features for me. I miss “watch folders” feature, but hopefully we’ll get it soon. I would also like to see other Media Views (similar to views in WMP) and fully functional build-in client (not just scrobbling).

    Without watch folders (and for some people: podcasts, cover art downloads and cd ripping/writing) Songbird is not yet ready for everyone. Developers promise that next year we’ll see significant and fast progress in these areas.

    • Chris
    • December 5th, 2008

    So what is your player of choice?

    • Zac
    • December 6th, 2008

    I agree with the above post, Songbird is not ready for everyone yet. It’s still progressing and they will add features and clean it up. It’s not ready for me yet as well. Rhythmbox for me at the moment.

    BTW: nice desktop theme

    • Bob L
    • December 6th, 2008

    I too found it peculiar that Songbird didn’t integrate that well in the GNOME desktop environment. Of course, previous versions didn’t, so I wasn’t that surprised, but still.

    What made it a no-go for me, was that it simply cannot be used to add or manage music in my portable MP3 player (which is not an iPod). MTP support is actually non-existent in Linux.

    Hmmm.. is Windows the main target for POTI developers? I wouldn’t blame them if it was – it’s their choice, although I don’t think it’s particularly wise of them. My own choice makes me deinstall Songbird (again), even though I really want to like it (and I did when I used Windows). Back to Rhythmbox, which does everything I need. When I’ll want to browse music blogs, I’ll resort to Firefox, as usual.

    • Johan
    • December 6th, 2008

    Oh c’mon! Change the songbird theme to fix that problem, and use alt+click&drag to get wobbly windows. Should work as it does with Audacious and some other apps that doesn’t show titlebars by default.

    • Johan
    • December 6th, 2008

    @Bob L: MTP support is available through several of the major multimediaplayers. I know because I have used it. Check again.

    • shamil
    • December 6th, 2008

    I like this blog entry. It’s just another media player that’s not terribly exciting and reviewed as such. Certainly i’m not replacing audacious with songbird from what i’ve seen of the screenshots.

    • 6205
    • December 6th, 2008

    Banshee is the future of next generation GNOME music player

    • linuxowns
    • December 6th, 2008

    @ Chris:

    I use Banshee.

    @ Johan:

    You miss the point I made.

    It shouldn’t be necessary to skin an app to make it integrate into the DE. And even if it is skinned it won’t totally match the theme you got.

    Alt+click and drag might work (didn’t test it), but I won’t be doing that.

    @ Shamil:


    • Megaqwerty
    • December 7th, 2008

    If you want Songbird to integrate with your desktop Environment you should try installing the NativeBird extension.

  1. Desktop integration is better done (than using the nativebird feather, which I find doesn’t render very well) using the addon “More Gonzo” which adds a range of modes to the default feather including “alternative” which returns the default title bar to the top and adds a status bar to the bottom.

    • juan jacques
    • December 9th, 2008

    correct me if i’m wrong but the maker songbird is pioneers of the inevitable and not mozilla. although it is powered by mozilla it is not exactly made by them.

    • Mike
    • December 12th, 2008

    @Megaqwerty – thanks for the link. Nativebird gives great DE, however what would be really good is a notifier icon giving simple play/pause control.

    • Bart Burroughs
    • January 26th, 2009

    I can’t get it to work at all, period. I try extracting the folder and starting it that way and even installing the lates intrepid .deb file and it won’t start. .0.7.* works fine although I like banshee better personally.

    • Wilf
    • February 27th, 2009

    I’ve been using Songbird since 0.3, and loved it. But when I made the switch from Windows to Ubuntu, I felt (as stupid as it sounds) a bit betrayed. Linux obviously hasn’t been given the same attention that Windows has – desktop integration is ridiculously bad, it’s like running a Wine app, and there’s no support for MTP devices on Linux. You would think it wouldn’t reach 1.0 still missing basic features like MTP support, but there you go.

    • nortexoid
    • April 26th, 2009

    Yeah, it’s a bit ugly, but at least you can use a “more native” feather to get it to at least use your system-wide window decoration. Its not being a GTK app is what makes it suck a bit (e.g. it doesn’t work with Global Menu either).

    Otherwise it is a pretty sweet player and probably the only one that provides a relatively simple way (or any way at all!) of importing an iTunes library, including ratings, play count, etc. This is a must for a lot of us, unfortunately. If mp3s had a rating component in their metadata this wouldn’t be an issue, but…

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  1. December 7th, 2008

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